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As a 20-year veteran of the advertising business, I have followed the debate inspired by Al and Laura Ries' new book "The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR" with interest ("Ries' thesis: Ads don't build brands, PR does," AA, July 15; "What advertising needs to rise again," Viewpoint, AA, Oct. 28).

I find I largely agree with their conclusion that advertising today is an "art" form, something still valued but for reasons other than its original function.

The blame surely goes to the inability to find a credible way to measure the impact of advertising. As a research analyst at Leo Burnett Co. in the late `70s, I found it hard to believe that so little attention was paid to applying scientific methods of measurement to ad campaigns. With the possible exception of John Golanty and Bob Blattberg's model for tracking the relationship between advertising and new-product success, the attitude was that it could not be done.

While Al and Laura may be right in predicting a coming "PR era," in my mind the smarter money is on the "interactive era" as advertising's heir.

Direct marketing principles, combined with the technology of e-marketing, are giving way to a new world of measurable and accountable marketing communications. Armed with empirical campaign metrics, the "data scientists" are triumphing. The ability to cost-efficiently refine messages, targets and media is resulting in a new emphasis on marketing return on investment-a discussion in which neither PR nor advertising can credibly participate. Marketing communications is in fact becoming "rocket science."

The scientific revolution will allow many winners. Brands will find better ways to grow revenue and sustain per-customer profits. Leading-edge marketing services companies will grow by inventing better ways to help brands reach their targets efficiently with differentiating experiences. And customers will benefit from more relevant messages, more tailored products/services and lower prices.

The losers?

"Creatives" whose functions will be increasingly mechanized and commoditized. That's because when creative can be evaluated empirically, "creative judgment" becomes irrelevant.

Carol Phillips



Stevensville, Mich.

Merge brand and retail advertising

"What advertising needs to rise again" (Viewpoint, AA, Oct. 28) by Stan Rapp [chairman of MRM Partners Worldwide, a unit of Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann WorldGroup], his response to Al Ries' claim that "advertising is dead," struck a chord with our agency, Hitchcock Fleming & Associates, as did the columns in the same issue by Scott Donaton and Stefano Hatfield about the speech by Donny Deutsch [chairman-CEO of Interpublic's Deutsch, New York].

Rapp's "surprising convergence of techniques" and Deutsch's call for performance and results aren't new, and can be accomplished simultaneously via a merging of brand and retail advertising, which at HF&A we've coined as "Bretail."

From direct response TV spots to e-marketing, HF&A has proved to various clients that Bretail advertising can measurably drive client income. One of our recent TV spots for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. featured a U.S. Savings Bond promotion that directly increased incremental sales by hundreds of thousands of tires.

Today's advertising, as Donaton assesses from Donny's speech, boils "down to sane, even basic, business sense." HF&A's basic formula for Bretail measurability, in partnership with building client relationships, is helping us gain new clients and growth. In 2002's tough economy, HF&A has had a nearly 8.5% net gain in employees, experienced double-digit growth and picked up important accounts.

For more than 60 years, we've been blessed to work with great clients, and we're looking forward to a continued bright future for them and advertising.

Jack S. DeLeo


Hitchcock Fleming and Associates

Akron, Ohio

Ad campaigns shouldn't, be used in isolation

After Al and Laura Ries announced "the fall of advertising and the rise of PR," the advertising community, including Stan Rapp [chairman of MRM Partners Worldwide] is trying to rebuild the reputation of advertising. ("What advertising needs to rise again," Viewpoint, AA, Oct. 28). To do this Mr. Rapp presents some examples of "selling" campaigns: the Apple iBook [and] a convergence concept used by General Motors Corp. in Argentina. This view is dangerous. Advertising, especially in the computer and car fields, never happens in isolation. There is always a lot of PR around that gives the campaigns credibility.

In Germany, GM runs the same ad campaign for all models of the Opel brand, and Opel is not doing very well these days. [There is] one exception: the Opel Zafira. Interesting point: The Zafira is the only Opel brand that got a lot of positive PR. Key question: Is the advertising of the Zafira selling? Of course, because the Zafira brand was first built by PR. For the other Opel models, the same ad theme is not doing very well.

I agree with Al and Laura Ries that advertising will play an important role in the future: to protect a brand after it has been established by PR. It is very dangerous to see advertising campaigns in isolation.

Michael Brandtner

Brand positioning consultant

Rohrbach, Germany


* In "MasterCard, Universal eye $100 mil deal" (Dec. 2, P. 1), Universal Pictures' Brand Group was misidentified as Branch Group.

* In "Used car shoppers are target of Kia Web ads" (Late News, Dec. 2, P. 2), independent Davidandgoliath, Los Angeles, was incorrectly listed as the agency for Kia's online ad project. Aegis Group's Carat Interactive, Los Angeles, created the ads. Also, the online project does not include pop-up ads, as originally reported.

* In the chart "Sweeps results," with the story "NBC cinches sweeps; ABC surprise at No. 2" (Dec. 2, P. 3), the share/rating point data displayed is for adults 18-49. The chart incorrectly described the data as being for adults 18-24.

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